Adverse Effects of Pediatric Acupuncture Usually Mild

Mild adverse effects include pain, bruising, bleeding, and worsening of symptoms

MONDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- The majority of adverse effects (AEs) associated with pediatric acupuncture are mild in severity, according to a review published online Nov. 21 in Pediatrics.

Denise Adams, Ph.D., from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues reviewed available literature to assess AEs associated with needle acupuncture in children. A total of 37 reports, which were original peer-reviewed research, included children from birth to 17 years undergoing needle acupuncture, and detailed assessments of AEs in children were included.

The investigators identified 279 AEs, of which 25 were serious (12 cases of thumb deformity, five infections, and one case each of cardiac rupture, pneumothorax, nerve impairment, subarachnoid hemorrhage, intestinal obstruction, hemoptysis, reversible coma, and overnight hospitalization). One AE was moderate (infection); the remaining 253 were mild and included pain, bruising, bleeding, and worsening of symptoms. The mild AE incidence was calculated as 168 in 1,422 patients (11.8 percent).

"We identified common minor AEs and rare serious harms in pediatric acupuncture," the authors write. "To produce convincing risk estimates for pediatric acupuncture, prospective large-scale pediatric studies and standardized reporting criteria are needed. With the popularity of pediatric acupuncture, especially in patient populations, reliable information about its safety is urgently needed."

The study was funded by Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions.

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